Ann Kananu

Former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko (left) and current Governor Ann Kananu.

| File | Nation Media Group

How Nairobi moved away from Mike Sonko’s big shadow

City Hall had hogged headlines like never before since Mike Sonko took over the reins as governor of Nairobi.

Gaudy and loud, the former Makadara MP and city senator put the county government in the limelight with his unending theatrics.

Mr Sonko was the complete opposite of his predecessor, Dr Evans Kidero, who never loved publicity.

If not screaming about being assaulted during one of the numerous brushes with investigative agencies, Mr Sonko was recording someone during a private conversation.

During his three years at the helm, City Hall became synonymous with Mr Sonko as he ruthlessly ran roughshod over anyone who got in his way.

Corruption, financial malpractices, resignations, leaks of recordings and incessant cabinet reshuffles dominated the city county government as Mr Sonko’s unorthodox means rubbed most people the wrong way.

Supremacy battles

However, 2021 stood out as an unusual year in the capital city. The flamboyant Mr Sonko was no more and there was a new sheriff in town in the name of Lt-Gen Mohamed Badi and Governor Ann Kananu.

For the first time since late 2017, the Nairobi County government emerged from the shadow of the former senator.

The incessant supremacy battles were gone, development work was taken over by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and the Nairobi County Assembly also enjoyed some level of tranquility.

There were no more cabinet reshuffles and City Hall staff living on the edge; gone too were recordings as well as leadership tussles.

Mr Sonko would be impeached by Nairobi MCAs on December 3, 2020, when 88 ward representatives voted in favour of his removal from office over gross misconduct, abuse of office, gross violation of the Constitution and other national laws as well as crimes under the national law.

The Senate would two weeks later uphold the resolution by the assembly confirming the impeachment, bringing down the curtains to Mr Sonko’s rule.

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura ruled for 28 days before handing over the reins to Ms Kananu, first as acting governor and eventually as the first female governor of the city-county.

Ms Kananu would embrace working closely with NMS Director-General Lt Gen Badi, a far cry from the times of Mr Sonko.

“I promise to work seamlessly with NMS for smooth flow of services to Nairobi residents as there has been an outcry due to poor leadership and governance,” said Ms Kananu when she took over as acting governor on January 18, 2021.

“Together, we will work round the clock and go the extra mile to ensure that the aspirations of Nairobi people are not only met but exceeded in a bid to accelerate their socio-economic development. The public can now look forward to enhanced service delivery,” she added.

New beginning

This heralded a new beginning in the city when NMS took centre stage as it launched one development project after the other.

The tussle between NMS and City Hall over credit for development projects, fight over staff payroll and name-calling, among others, are no longer there.

Ms Kananu would often accompany Mr Badi as they toured the capital city to launch different development projects initiated by the latter.

More than 10 of 24 new hospitals were commissioned, 100 additional boreholes drilled, roads were recarpeted, garbage collection enhanced, more health workers recruited, and approvals of development plans streamlined.

Transfer of funds

Governor Kananu would also in December sign a framework of transfer of funds with Lt-Gen Badi, allowing NMS to receive funding directly from the Exchequer.

The framework had been developed by the National Treasury in November 2020 to guide the funding of NMS, but had not been signed as the two administrations, with City Hall under Mr Sonko, fought over control of funds.

In the financial year ending June 30, 2023, NMS is pencilled to receive an allocation of Sh18.9 billion for four county functions of health, public works, transport, planning and ancillary services it runs.

The Deed of Transfer of functions signed on February 25, 2020 at State House had marked a power shift in Nairobi County, with all the essential services directly affecting the lives of the more than four million residents going to NMS.

This left Ms Kananu to rule over the Education and Sports; Food and Agriculture; ICT and E-government; and Commerce and Tourism departments.

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